Do you know that nearly 20 percent of men who undergo radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer suffer from bowel dysfunction including constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, incontinence, etc.? It becomes embarrassing to lose control over your bladder or bowel movements. However, in some cases bowel dysfunction may not be necessarily due to cancer treatment. It is important to seek medical help before the situation goes out of hand.
To understand further, let’s discuss how your body functions.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland between the bladder and penis. It surrounds the urethra, a passage to the penis through which the urine and semen pass.
One out of every 5 patients suffer from bowel incontinence after getting radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.
Also known as ‘Fecal Incontinence’, it is a condition in which you are unable to control over your bowel movements. From a drop while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel, it is an accidental leakage of faeces from the rectum.
You might have experienced this situation once in your lifetime. In case you face this situation prior to your treatment, then you need to look for a medical help as soon as possible.
Some of the bowel symptoms prior to the prostate cancer treatment are:
The best part is that this problem rarely hits men and they overcome through this problem by taking medical help from the relevant specialist. Therefore, it is not a major issue among men.
When the cancer in prostate starts to grow and spread to the urethra, several urinary problems including incontinence can occur. This could lead to bowel incontinence as well. This could be the case of prostate cancer to the next stage where it has spread to the spine. Eventually, these cancerous tumors start affecting spinal bones or nerves in the spinal cord that is responsible for bladder or bowel functioning. The other common way by which you suffer from such problems is prostate cancer treatment such as radiotherapy or surgery.
If it is destined, then this bowel incontinence problem can disappear on its own after a few weeks. On the contrary, the treatment radiations can permanently destroy the nerves and the incontinence disorder may not get corrected on its own.
Experiencing bowel incontinence due to spinal cord compression or prostate cancer treatment may or may not be treatable and vary from a small amount of leakage to a total loss of bowels. In some situation, proper bowel movements can be gained back once the treatment and rehabilitation process is done. However, if the recovery process isn’t happening fast or bring any positive results, then there must be some changes in your lifestyle to manage your bowel movements and this can be done by:
Bowel incontinence caused due to compressed nerves of the spinal cord, prostate cancer treatment or expansion of prostate cancer to the bones or spine, palliative treatments could bring some relief. Your doctor would look into the matter and finalize what is best for you. It could be surgery, radiotherapy or medication course. Always remember that it is important to cope with such situations with positivity and hope. If needed, take support from a therapist or counselor.
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